The early bird may get the worm, but does the same logic apply to eating dinner early?
There are people who don’t eat after 7 p.m. and there are those who regularly dine well into the evening. But which group is right? Well, as it turns out, neither. According to Kayla Kopp, a registered dietician at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition, there is no ideal time to eat your last meal of the day. Additionally, what’s more important is what you’re eating versus when you eat it.
While eating dinner with your family has known health benefits, you might not know what scientific studies say is the best time to actually eat this dinner. A new study said that the best time to eat dinner might be earlier than you think.
Is there a best time to eat dinner?
Research, such as a small 2016 study, shows that many adults have erratic eating patterns (1Trusted Source).
More than half of the 156 people in the study ate during a long window of 15 hours or more in an average day. Some people may have stopped eating at 4 p.m., while others may have relied on snack foods well into the night (1Trusted Source).
So, when it comes to the question of the ideal time to eat dinner, the answer may depend on your personal health-related goals or medical conditions.
When Is the Best Time to Eat Lunch?
Your metabolism peaks each day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Aim to eat lunch between these hours to take advantage of stronger digestive function at this time.
Lunch should be a lighter meal than breakfast or dinner. You need to maintain your concentration during these hours, since you are most likely still at work or school. You also may not have the time to prepare something for yourself, so consider options such as a high-quality lunch served quickly from Forklift & Palate.
Our lunch menu includes tasty yet healthy favorites such as Blackened Southwest Chicken Wrap and Korean BBQ Glazed Salmon that give you needed protein without weighing you down with added oil.
How to figure out when to eat dinner
If eating at 5 p.m. is virtually impossible for you, do not fret. Canadeo recommends eating roughly three to four hours before you sleep for your well-being since digestion slows down at the end of the day. Having a three-hour window before sleeping will improve your sleep and digestion, per the Cleveland Clinic. So, if you’re not going to sleep until 10 p.m., eating at 7 p.m. works.
The meal gap: Between dinner and breakfast
When you fall asleep after your dinner your body goes into a fasting mode. During this phase a lot of physiological functions take place. Ideally, a sleep cycle of 8 to 10 hours restricts calorie intake, improves metabolism (though slow) and cardiovascular health.
Some studies also indicate that an extended period of calorie restriction at night can improve gut health, reduce inflammation and reverse obesity and diabetes.
However, when you wake up in the morning your body would be in need of energy or glucose.
How to work out your calorie deficit
You can use a calorie calculator to find out your deficit threshold, along with how many kcals you should be eating to maintain or gain weight.
Maddy says: “Everyone’s caloric needs and deficits are different and will depend on a range of things, including weight, height, gender, genes, metabolism and fat loss goals.
“Eating 500 fewer calories a day is a good place to start and should allow you to drop about 1 pound a week.
Space out the time between eating dinner and going to bed.
One great way to determine the right eating time for your personal well-being is to think about what time you typically go to sleep—and work backward from there.
Although dinner time itself may be subject to individual schedules, it’s ideal for your health to allow two to three hours between your last meal and going to bed.
Should breakfast be your biggest meal?
If you try to eat earlier in the day, making breakfast your biggest daily meal may not be so important, suggests another study, published in Cell Metabolism last month. Researchers had 30 subjects who were overweight follow two four-week diets: one with 45% of the day’s calories in the morning, the other with 45% of the day’s calories at dinner.
Not enough time to eat?
It’s easy to fall into the habit of rushing through your meals or eating on the go, but you should make it a practice to sit down and take time for meals. You digest your food better and enjoy your meals more — the tastes, textures and smells — when you slow down and focus on what you are eating. This habit is necessary for your overall well-being.
Keep a consistent eating schedule as much as possible so that your body knows when to expect breakfast, lunch and dinner. If your schedule varies every day, have healthy snacks on hand for times when a meal needs to wait.
The Impact of the Best Time to Eat
The time we eat matters as much as what we eat. A lot of emphasis is given time and again on the way to a healthy life versus diet. The process of digesting food varies with the time of the day, so it is imperative to plan your meal time accordingly.
The variations in the digestive process depend a lot on the circadian rhythm, i.e. the sleep-wake cycle decided by our body clock. It is normally mistaken that the circadian rhythm affects only our fatigue levels.